The Hearing of Faith
In Mark 4:26-29 the Lord Jesus used a parable to illustrate the kingdom of God. He said that the kingdom is like a seed sown into the earth, which grows until it is mature, and then it is harvested. Earlier in the same chapter the Lord had spoken another parable, the parable of the sower (vv. 1-20). In this parable the sower is the Lord Jesus (Matt. 13:37), and the seed sown by the Lord is the word of the kingdom (Mark 4:14; Matt. 13:19). Within every seed there is a life element. The life element in the seed of the kingdom, the word spoken by the Lord Jesus, is the Spirit, who is the reality and the realization of the Lord Himself (John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6b, 17). Thus, the seed of the kingdom is Christ Himself as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). The soil into which the seed of the kingdom is sown is the hearts of men (Matt. 13:19). The Lord as the sower sows Himself as the seed of life in His Word into the hearts of men that He might grow there until He reaches maturity at the time of harvest—the consummation of the age (Matt. 13:38-39; Rev. 14:1-5, 14-16).
In Matthew 6:10 the Lord taught us to pray to the Father, “Your kingdom come.” How does the kingdom come? The kingdom comes by the growth of Christ as the seed of the kingdom in us. And how can Christ grow in us? According to Matthew 5:3 and 8, there are at least two requirements: first, we need to be poor in spirit, and second, we must be pure in heart. To be poor in spirit simply means to be empty in our spirit—to have no preoccupations of any kind in our spirit. To be pure in heart is to seek only God and to have no other goal except God Himself. In the parable of the sower, the Lord spoke of four kinds of soil into which the seed of the kingdom is sown: the ground beside the way, which signifies the heart that is hardened by the traffic of the world and is not able to receive the seed; the rocky ground, which signifies the heart that is shallow in receiving the word of the kingdom because of hidden sins, personal desires, self-seeking, and self-pity; the thorny ground, symbolizing the heart that is filled with the anxieties of the age, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts for other things, which choke the word and prevent it from growing and bearing fruit; and the good earth, signifying the heart that gives every inch of its ground to receive the word that the word may grow, bear fruit, and produce even a hundredfold. We all need to ask ourselves what kind of soil we are for Christ as the seed of the kingdom. Are we the wayside, the rocky ground, the thorny ground, or the good earth? We need to pray and ask the Lord to make us poor in spirit and pure in heart. Then we will be the good earth in which the Lord Jesus can grow to maturity so that the kingdom of God can come and be manifested on the earth.
For further reading on this subject, please see A Brief Definition of the Kingdom of the Heavens and The Kingdom, both by Witness Lee; and the footnotes on Matthew 13:3-8 and Mark 4:3 in the New Testament Recovery Version, published by Living Stream Ministry.
From Issue No. 22, February 2000